Free Rural Housing Toolkit Provides Resources to Community Leaders

Posted on November 26, 2019

Paula Jensen
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Renner, SD. When it comes to rural challenges, one of the biggest obstacles many small towns face is a surplus of dilapidated properties and the need for quality, available housing.

In an effort to promote positive change, a group of innovative housing and economic development professionals have produced and released an online Housing Toolkit that provides a free, comprehensive housing resource for rural communities. Major topics covered in the toolkit include: code enforcement, acquisition, demolition, redevelopment and resources. The online toolkit’s table of contents is interactive and includes files of ready-to-use templates, how-to guides and sample documents. 

The five local experts spearheading the project are all connected through the Dakota Resources Learning Network and live in towns across South Dakota. The free toolkit took over one year to complete under the persistent dedication of the following individuals: 

  • Jared Hybertson, Executive Director of the Centerville Development Corporation
  • Cathy Evans, Executive Director of the Lemmon Housing Authority
  • Melissa Waldner, Executive Director of Webster Area Development Corporation
  • Cheyenne McGriff, former Economic Development Director in Wall
  • Lisa Zens, former Executive Director of Grow Spink
Pictured left to right: Jared Hybertson, Cathy Evans, Melissa Waldner, Cheyenne McGriff, and Lisa Zens

These five individuals raised their hands and said, “We will share what we’ve learned so that someone stepping into this work doesn’t have to spend all of their time looking for resources to help. This is the type of work where we can all get better together.” 

The toolkit was facilitated by Dakota Resources, a rural community economic and development organization, and received funding from the South Dakota Community Foundation’s Community Innovation Grant program. 

Mike Knutson, Dakota Resources Learning Network Orchestrator explains, “This started at a workshop on dilapidated housing, sponsored by Dakota Resources. As participants shared examples of their work, we discovered there was incredible knowledge in the room. No single person had all the answers, but together we knew a lot.” 

Knutson emphasizes that the toolkit is a working document that encourages feedback and further input from the people using it. “This is a volunteer effort, and we welcome additional information from anyone who has further expertise and insight,” says Knutson. “We hope the toolkit evolves over time so that it is always relevant and up-to-date to help solve those tough rural housing issues.” To access the free Housing Toolkit, click here. For additional information or questions, email housing@dakotaresources.org.




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